Mid Ulster MLA calls on minister to intervene over rural bank closures


Mid Ulster SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone has warned of the economic impact of rural bank closures and has called for the Economy Minister to intervene.

Bank of Ireland revealed in July that its branches in Draperstown and Maghera are to close.

The announcement prompted the SDLP to request a meeting with the bank, but the delegation was left ‘hugely disappointed’.

Now Mr McGlone has raised the issue at the Northern Ireland Assembly. He said: “There appears to be a gradual retreat by banks from the rural communities they serve.

“In Mid Ulster we have seen the withdrawal of banks from Maghera, Draperstown and, for south Derry businesses, Portglenone.

“These are not non-productive rural areas.

“When a bank branch closes there is a knock-on effect in reduced footfall that impacts negatively on other local business. That is why the SDLP brought this motion to the Assembly.

“We are calling on the Minister for the Economy to intervene now and encourage the banking sector to maintain a strong network of rural bank branches and to safeguard the existing bank branches within rural communities from closure.”

Sean Sheehan, Bank of Ireland UK, previously told the Mail the decision was not taken lightly and the bank was responding to shifts in customer behaviour towards online channels.